We are now just two weeks away from FC Dallas' first competitive match of the 2017 season as Oscar Pareja's side hosts Arabe Unido in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal. This is the second time FC Dallas has faced a team from Panama in a competitive match so let's learn a little bit more about FCD's opponents which they will face at Toyota Stadium on Thursday, February 23rd and in Panama on Wednesday, March 1st.
How they got here
The year-long process that sees Arabe Unido into the CCL knockout stage started when the club was the 2015 Panamanian champions. Players like Edgar Barcenas, Roberto Chen and Armando Cooper who have now departed played a big role in seeing Arabe Unido win the championship.
The Panamanians pulled off the shock of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, going 4-0-0 in a group with Mexican giants Monterrey and Haitian side Don Bosco FC. Arabe Unido won a thrilling 3-2 game at Monterrey and also beat them 2-1 at home with Jose Gonzalez scoring in both matches. The Panamanians easily dispatched with Don Bosco to go perfect through the group stage and earn a trip to the quarterfinals as the #2 overall seed.
Who to watch
Look out for winger Jose Gonzalez. The fringe Panama National Teamer has tons of CCL experience and has scored in big games for the club over the years including both matches against Monterrey.
Forward Enrico Small has played for the national team before and notched 17 goals last season for Arabe Unido Goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd has played nearly every game the last five years for Arabe Unido and they have also added a familiar name in forward Blas Perez, though Superraton will not be available for these matches as he is cap-tied having played in the group stage with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Should FC Dallas advance past Arabe Unido, the winner of the Saprissa(Costa Rica) vs Pachuca(Mexico) quarterfinal would await FCD. Pachuca has arguably been the best team in Mexico along with Tigres and Club America over the last 12 months while Saprissa is a perennial favorite in the CCL.